It was basically impossible to scroll TikTok at the start of the pandemic without seeing dalgona coffee. Next was the freddo cappuccino, a Greek beverage that unites the refreshment of iced coffee with the robust flavor of a double espresso. Now, there’s yet another java drink to add to your to-sip list, and it just might be the most refreshing one yet. Here’s everything you need to know about sparkling Americanos, including a ridiculously simple recipe for making them at home.
This Espresso Drink Is Going Viral on TikTok (And We’ll Be Drinking It All Year Long, TYVM)
What Is A Sparkling Americano?
For those who haven’t had the pleasure of drinking a standard Americano, the drink is simply espresso and water served hot or over ice. A sparkling Americano substitutes club soda or sparkling water for still water. Since these mixers are typically most delicious when chilled, the beverage is served over ice. The drink technically only requires these two ingredients, but most TikTok iterations call for adding an orange slice or peel to the glass, as popularized by @softpourn’s viral rendition (which also calls for a basil leaf, BTW).
It may seem polarizing, but citrus and espresso actually pair wonderfully together. Cafés have been serving espresso with lemon or lemon peel since World War II, as its aroma and acidity complement the bitterness of the freshly pulled shots. (Some purists believe that lemon is actually used to mask the taste of poorly extracted espresso, but we’ll let you decide.) But espresso shots with a side of lemon are served hot—so how did the sparkling Americano come to be?
If you ask us, the bubbly bev has been years in the making. Espresso soda has existed at least since the 1800s in the Americas and even earlier in Europe, according to Bon Appétit. But it wasn’t exactly popular stateside until the 2000s, despite its long history. In 2007, Swedish purveyor Koppi Fine Coffee Roasters changed the java landscape by adding an espresso tonic to its café menu, a mix of espresso, tonic water (which is different from club soda because it contains quinine, the source of its signature bitter flavor, and sometimes sugar) and simple syrup.
A few years later, the same café started slinging the espresso fizz, which was essentially the same as the Kaffe & Tonic with the addition of orange bitters and occasionally fresh lemon or lime. Both drinks grew popular throughout Europe and eventually in the U.S. Starbucks had their finger on the pulse (duh) and launched the Sparkling Cold-Pressed Americano in 2017. The drink, no longer on the menu, was essentially identical to the sparkling Americanos that are currently flooding your For You page.
It seems like the sparkling Americano du jour is a product of its bubbly predecessors (especially because the creator of the first viral TikTok recipe didn’t invent the drink but was simply replicating one he’d had at a coffee shop before). We also think the citrus-kissed renditions of the drink share striking similarities with the Americano cocktail, a libation made from Campari (an apéritif that boasts bittersweet notes of orange peel), sweet vermouth and sparkling water.
Today, there are countless ways to make a sparkling Americano, but many involve orange peels, orange slices or even fresh-squeezed orange juice. The zippy citrus matched with bold espresso and effervescent sparkling water is no doubt one of the most refreshing caffeinated combos in the book.
How To Make A Sparkling Americano
There really aren’t too many tricks and tips to making this drink the best it can be, since it’s deliciously simple, but a few key tweaks can make a big difference. Its flavor relies a lot on the quality of the espresso and how it’s pulled (although a few TikTokkers have made the drink with cold brew instead).
Even if you’re not well-versed in preparing espresso, starting with room temperature soda water is one way to ensure that the drink won’t taste too bitter. Water that’s already cold will shock the coffee, intensifying its bitterness and dulling its chocolatey, fruity notes. It’s best that the espresso and seltzer chill together over ice at their own pace.
If you decide to go the citrusy route, add a slice of orange to the bottom of your glass before the ice and express an orange peel over the drink once it’s prepared. You can also rub the peel on the rim of the glass to make the most of its flavor and aroma. Topping the glass with an additional splash of soda water will help give the drink a nice, creamy head (because presentation is everything, people). And of course, if you prefer your coffee drinks sweet, add a splash of simple syrup at the end (or mix it into the hot espresso before you dump it into the soda water) and stir before sipping. Read on for a step-by-step guide to making your first sparkling Americano.
- Orange slice, if desired
- Sparkling water or club soda
- Two ounces fresh espresso
Step 1: Add the orange slice to the bottom of the glass. Fill the glass with ice.
Step 2: Fill the glass about three-quarters of the way with sparkling water. As it begins to chill, pull the espresso shots.
Step 3: Add the espresso shots to the glass and simple syrup if desired, then gently stir. Finish the drink with an extra splash of seltzer if desired.
Creative Sparkling Americanos To Try At Home
TikTok has no shortage of twists on this trendy espresso drink. Here are five of our favorite riffs.
1. Rosemary Vanilla Sparkling Americano
If you like your coffee sweet, go with this unconventional twist on the sparkling Americano that stars vanilla syrup. The espresso is brewed right into it, so it dissolves completely before being added to the glass.
2. Yuzu Sparkling Americano
About an ounce and a half of tart, slightly bitter yuzu extract is added after the espresso to give the drink a unique citrus profile.
Inspired by the Algerian drink, this sparkling Americano gets a spoonful of sugar, lime juice and a lime wedge.
4. Blood Orange Sparkling Americano
Instead of plain soda water, this content creator uses blood orange-flavored Italian soda and Boston bitters to zhuzh up the sipper.
5. Lemon Lavender Sparkling Americano
Lavender extract, soda water and lemon peel unite for this floral, aromatic remix.